Hi friends! I’m back on the blogging bandwagon.
Today I’m sharing a travel guide for my absolute favorite Hawaiian island: Kauai! If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path vacation, look no further. Kauai (aka the Garden Island) is lush, relaxing, and downright beautiful.
Quick tangent. Have you seen Moana? If you haven’t, we probably shouldn’t be friends. If you have, do you remember her chicken friend, Heihei? I always wondered why Moana had a quirky, feathered sidekick. It all made sense when I visited Kauai for the first time in 2017. There are chickens EVERYWHERE! Apparently after a massive hurricane in the early 90s, the domestic chickens broke loose and mated with the wild ones. Now there are thousands of beautiful roosters roaming around Kauai. It’s lowkey amazing.
Here are few of my favorite restaurants, sights, and fun-tivities on Kauai. I typically stay on the North Shore (specifically Hanalei Bay and Princeville), but you honestly can’t go wrong with any spot on the island!
I should have a loyalty card for the amount of times I’ve frequented Lava Lava Beach Club. This cute beachside restaurant is on the east side of the island. Come early for happy hour and stay late for live music (and maybe even a hula dancer)! Pro tip: order the Ribs and Coconut Shrimp. I’m still dreaming about my last dinner there!
One of the most luxurious hotels on the island! If you don’t want to blow your travel budget out of the water on a hotel stay, stop by the resort during happy hour for a glass of champagne and toast to the amazing sunset from Princeville Bar’s balcony.
This open-air coffee shop + café is one of those spots that’s perpetually packed, though you can generally snag a spot at the hightop bar. There are tons of options for the gluten- and dairy-averse, including really good almond milk lattes and delicious rolls, breakfast burritos, and muffins.
This shop is tucked away in Kilauea on the north part of the island. Great spot for unique gifts and handmade goods from local artisans and makers. I typically leave wishing I was a surfer so I could buy one of their trendy boards on display!
Owned by the same folks as Hunter Gatherer, this tiny coffee shop is pricey but totally worth visiting. Their tea selection is outstanding and their organic, vegan treats are nothing short of mouth-watering.
Protected even in strong surf by what is, in fact, Hawaii’s largest coral reef, the crystal-clear waters of Anini (which was called Wanini until a hurricane knocked the W off the sign, and the locals decided to leave it) are shallow and calm enough to snorkel. Better yet, there’s ample public parking, and grassy picnic spots abound.
This place is an absolute institution on the island. Make sure you stop in for the Mai Tais and stay for the live music. Perfect spot for an after-dinner drink with your favorite travel buddy. Fun fact: the movie “The Decendents” starring George Clooney was filmed here!
Looking for a “foodie” destination for dinner? This Hanalei restaurant is great for tapas and sipping fancy Mediterranean wines. Thanks to the chef’s close collaboration with island fishermen and local organic farmers, these small plates are brimming with Hawaiian-inspired fare made from fresh, regional ingredients.
Voted one of the most beautiful hikes in the world, the Kalalau trail is definitely for the serious hiker! Choose from the 11 or 4 mile hike along breathtaking ocean views, steep cliffs, and cascading waterfalls. Make sure to bring lots of water and wear hiking-friendly shoes!
The Holo Holo Charters crew is one of the best on Kauai. These guys are passionate about their jobs and provide the best service! Opt for the Snorkel/Sail along the Napali coast where you can swim with turtles while soaking in views of 4,000 ft cliffs. Best part of the tour? Seeing where the Jurassic Park opening scene was filmed with a cold “Bikini Blonde” beer in hand.
Open since 1983, Wishing Well Shave Ice, which operates out of a white food truck on Kuhio Highway, has long been a staple in Hanalei. More recently, though, it’s taken a fresh, organic turn under new owners who have done away with artificially flavored syrups and powders, while still making really tasty, refreshing shave ice. This is also an easy spot to pick up a breakfast acai bowl and cup of coffee.
Sure, the views from all sides are stunning—one of the island’s best snorkeling beaches is immediately below—but the food and cocktails are fantastic. This spot nails the upscale Hawaiian beach vibe without being too high-brow.
Need more recommendations for your upcoming trip to Kauai? Leave a comment below!